Leo Jormanainen's 1956 Imperial Sedan

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Front view.



Left side.

Engine compartment. The car originally had the "Instant Heat Conditionaire" gasoline heater, but the second owner removed it for a conventional heater core. Leo received the original gas heater when he purchased the car.



Side view of Leo's car parked in front of the radically restyled 1957 model.

View of the front seat and dash.



View from the driver's seat.

Minor rust in this quarter is about the only spot on the car.

Elegant rear view.
  Hi, I'm abbreviating this, but it's still "very" long winded,

Well I have my '56 at home now, so I can spill the beans. I returned back home to Canada from Finland thirty-one years ago.

Thirty years ago a fellow offered to sell me his immaculate '56 Imperial for $50.00 CAD. I had to turn him down because the following week I had to go college for my last year of apprenticeship. When I returned, the car was sold and I've kicked myself since, until now.

About three years ago, I put a want ad for a '56 Imp on the Imperial club. I received a few replies showing cars in various states of disrepair. The deal on one exceptional '56 Imp complete with original wire-wheels fell through. I pretty well gave up and bought myself a '67 Mobile Director Coupe.

Last fall out of the blue, I received an e-mail from Robert Hiebert, stating that he has a '56 Imp for sale and it has been in storage in Saskatchewan for the past 22 years. I played a long shot on a hunch and e-mailed him back, asking if this was the same car that was in Prince Rupert thirty years ago. I told him who the seller was and how much was asked for it, etc. This totally blew his mind. It was the same car.

I appropriately cursed him for buying the car on me. (grudge) :-) To make a long story shorter, we had a deal and I got way more then I
bargained for. All winter was like Christmas for me, he kept sending me goodies to Vancouver Island Helicopters in Sandspit (I'm out in the sticks). The first box had the complete, now defunct Imperial Owners Club newsletters, right from the beginning to it's demise. The second box had a service manual and two parts books.

The parts kept coming, the original gas-heater (he installed a hot-water heater), mirrors, hood ornaments, a rebuilt clock, headlight surrounds for a '55, the list goes on and on. I'm heading off to Gibson's on Monday to pick up a mint, complete front clip, including the hood.

Last week I took the bus to Saskatchewan armed to the teeth with two toolboxes, rad hoses, V-belts, oil-filters and rebuild kits for wheel-cylinders and master-cylinder. The car looked great, the battery and tires were shot. We jacked the car up, changed the oil and filter, put in a new battery, checked for spark, put in some fresh gas, disconnected the fuel-line at the filter, cranked the engine over, pumped out the stale gas until the fresh gas came through, hooked the fuel-line back up, and cranked her over.

After a few cranks it sputtered and coughed a few times, first on a couple of cylinders then on all eight. It settled down to a perfect idle, not even any lifter rattle, as if it had never been shutdown.

Next the brakes, they've got to be seized up. Checked the master-cyl., topped it off and tromped on it, it held, no leaks. We pulled the front drums off, being certain that there has to be at least a seized wheel cylinder.  Nope, linings and drums were like new. We repacked the bearings and put it back together and bled all of the old brake-fluid out. We had full brake-pedal.

This was getting weird, a car after being stored in a tool shed for 22 years "has" to have something wrong. We greased all umpteen grease-nipples, all the steering and suspension joints were excellent. We spent two days going over the whole car looking for something wrong and the only thing we found was that the right, passengers side exhaust manifold was broken right by the ear. I gooped and taped it for now. If someone out there has a spare exhaust manifold for sale, please let me know. Also are the 392 and 354 exhaust manifolds interchangeable?

After putting on Cooper radials, we took it out for a few runs.  Oil-pressure, temperature and charging system were rock steady, the TorqueFlite shifted right on the money, the car was ready to drive home.

That evening, we patted ourselves on the back and indulged in some "Lambs Navy Rum". Being the perfect gentleman that I am, I thanked Robert for taking good care of the car for me for thirty years. :-)

The 1600 mile drive home was totally uneventful, 65-75mph on the freeway. I'll second Ross's comment, the car rides smoother then a Lincoln Town car! It also corners nicely around the twisties coming to the west coast. The car has tail-light lens's from a '60 Chevy, actually they look quite good, but Simo if you're out there, please give me the contact for the fellow who makes the repro's.

Next is a restoration. I'll probably get flack from someone for being long-winded, but that's OK.

A Happy Camper


This page was last updated October 13, 2003.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club